Epic Battle Fantasy 4 (EBF4) is a Flash based game developed by Matt Roszak aka Kupo707. The forth in a high quality, endlessly enjoyable series well worth your consideration.
The game is a friendly parody of JRPGs, from the world saving storyline to the turn-based combat. Its biggest selling point is the adherence to the genre staples that made many classic JRPGs exceptional. It features tons of weapons, skills and spells all with unique animations and a generally anime reminiscent art style. There are also plenty of monsters that will challenge you and keep you changing your tactics to deal with them all the way till the stronger-than-the-last-boss-boss.
- JRPG Style
- Humourous Characters and Plot
- 2D Anime Graphics
- Turn-Based Combat
- HP and MP
- Exp = Levels, AP = Skills
- Upgradable Equipment
- Visible Equipment
- Crafting With Miscellaneous Items
Interested yet? Skip to the bottom of the page for a link to the game hosted on Kongregate or keep reading for a more in-depth review of the gameplay.
EBF4 is a JRPG, for the uninitiated that’s short for Japanese Role-Playing Game, a subgenre of the more general RPG. Typical indicators, though not necessarily requirements, of a JRPG are anime-esque art styles, a heavy focus on plot and turn-based combat.
In EBF4 you play as a team of adventurers on a quest to save the world from destruction. The story features a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour from the ‘heroes’ who have little regard for the world they live in and are happy just to loot and pillage everything they come across seeing it as their personal mission to exterminate all the creatures in their way.
The lead character of this installment is Anna, who chases after the rest of the ‘protagonists’ when they steal the sacred crystal from her forest home. After convincing them to join her (read: bullies them) it turns out the crystal has been stolen by someone else. The group naturally sets out to recover the crystal and investigate the other two sacred crystals of the world with a view to preventing its untimely destruction.
Anna is joined by Matt, the sword-wielding warrior character with strong physical stats. Also Natalie, or Natz for short, the chief purveyor of fanservice. She also makes a mean mage armed with an array of destructive and flashy spells. Last of the group is Lance, a gunslinger character and soldier. He can summon airstrikes and tankstrikes to decimate the not necessarily hostile monsters of the world.
As with most RPGs the gameplay is divided between exploration and battle. I’ll cover exploration first.
The game world is divided into seperate screens which are travelled to through the North, South, East and West borders just as with the Zelda franchise. This makes navigation simple, provides an effective map that lets you know where you’ve been and where is still left to explore. It also provides excellent opportunities for treasure hunting as a visible chest will require pathfinding to find access via a different screen.
EBF4 also features a variety of basic puzzle solving, from acquiring the axe and the hammer to get through wood and stone blockages respectively. This primarily serves as a means to prevent the player accessing areas too early, but it also means that backtracking can become a rewarding experience providing access to previously inaccessible treasure. A dream for completionists and item hoarders.
As is the recent trend with JRPGs Monster groups appear on the map as static avatars often blocking important routes or treasure. They are fought by interacting with them. Consequently many are optional and can be avoided for frustration free adventures, but the true RPG gamer knows to take down every single monster they come across for the experience.
Speaking of the monsters its time to explore the battle system. If you’ve ever played a Final Fantasy game then you’ll understand exactly how the turn-based battles work.
The basics: On entering battle your team of adventurers lines up on the left with the monsters facing them to the right. Each team takes turns selecting actions such as a simple attack or a spell command then watches the result. This continues until one side or the other is beaten to death.
Some specifics: the game uses the classic HP systems to record damage, healing and KOs. And it’s MP for the casting of spells and use of skills both.
New to this installment of the series is summoning with SP. SP is awarded for every enemy defeated. It’s shared amongst all characters any of which can trade their turn in battle to summon one of the party’s acquired summons each with its own unique and devastating effect. The summons along with the special skills of the party are all fully animated with great attention to detail and well worth using at least once to see them.
Another new and particularly interesting feature in EBF4 is the inclusion of the forth party member to the standard three person team. The game handles the inclusion by allowing the swapping of an active character with an inactive character. You may have experienced a similar system in Final Fantasy X. This opens up a variety of new strategy options the simplest of which is allowing you to sway a weak character for a strong one according to the situation. If you do this with a KO’d character you a treated to seeing series staple No-Legs the cat dragging away the body.
Is your favourite RPG element the farming of materials and crafting of equipment? EBF4’s got you there too. You’ll acquire a wealth of obscure item drops during the adventure which are used to upgrade the characters’ equipment.
Which gives me the chance to talk about the excellent equipment system in EBF4. It stands out from the get go by the attention to detail and effort that has gone into making every single equipment change the appearance of the character it’s equipped to. Meaning you can dress Anna in her woodland hunter gear, as a gothic mage or even a pope, whilst Matt can rock it as a pirate or go deep space diving in the astronaut set.
Better yet, the equipment actually matters and is not just a simple upgrade of higher and higher stats. EBF4 features a strong element system and the various equipments remain relevant throughout the entire length of the game allowing you to customise the party at any time to protect them from ice attacks and fight back with enhanced fireballs.
The leveling system uses the standard experience from enemies to gain levels. Defeating enemies also earns AP which is used to ‘purchase’ skills, a concept common to many modern JRPGs. Such a system does mean that ‘grinding’ may be necessary, though the game is well balanced in level progression.
An unfortunate flaw in the game is its Flash player basis. Apart from requiring you to be online in order to play it also means that your save games are in danger of being deleted whenever you or your computer clears its cache.
The game’s other flaws are shared with its JRPG ancestors, slow turn-based gameplay with transitional battle scenes. Minimal replayability due to a story focused experience, lack of randomisation and multiple pathways.
As a JRPG the game is most suited to players already captivated by that genre, you won’t find anything genre diverse or unique here especially with its many, not always subtle, homages of famous JRPGs. Nonetheless its high quality and comical nature makes it a well worth playing for the veteran or novice.
Two brief notes, the game features some premium content which gives access to some new skills and equipment. It does not at all restrict the gameplay, allowing this review to be written from a free-playing perspective. On that note it should be considered purely as a reward for players who wish to support the developer by purchasing the premium content.
The developer is currently trying to get the game ‘greenlit’ on steam, with the promise of adding additional content should it succeed. The game is also available for free as a browser based game on Kongregate and other flash game websites.
If you enjoy EBF4 be sure to check out Epic Battle Fantasy 3 for more of the same. The first and second parts of the series are also excellent installments and take on more of an arcade game style.
Epic Battle Fantasy 4 on Kongregate
Epic Battle Fantasy 4’s Steam Greenlight Page